Growing Pains

I don’t know where to start.

A few weeks ago, I was at dinner with a friend in DC, and tried to make a list of all the crazy things that have happened since …I guess since I last posted. It’s been dizzying, and not all good. I feel like I want to go hide somewhere without people for three days just to try to make sense of it all, to write and think and breathe.

I haven’t been writing much, here. Telling stories for others instead of myself is a safe way to hide. I don’t really want to write much about my life here–I don’t want “messy life processing post-divorce” to define me. Here. At all.

But in another light, that stuff, the depression and awkward gestures toward healing, the gangly relational in-between as I grow into myself and my new life all over again, that is all part of my story. And to not write about it, for me, is a little bit of denial. I want to keep it all tightly private and hide it from all but a few close, safe friends, and then let you see the butterfly rebirth later. But that due date keeps getting pushed back and it’s a process that’s out of my hands and just so painfully slow and natural and un-time-able.

So maybe, maybe, I’ll try to straddle the divide and stay safe but let you see me a bit more. After all, I can’t be the only one whose post-courtship-ideals life fell apart. I can’t be the only one whose parents initially edged close to “I told you so,” and didn’t seem to understand that their involvement couldn’t have prevented things from going badly [but may even have made things worse with their attempts at “accountability”]. I can’t be the only CP/QF daughter whose marriage fell apart for reasons unrelated to courtship or parents, but possibly tied to the hurry and seriousness parents and courtship pressure forced on a nascent relationship. We’ll see if I can or will write about these things. I’m not sure yet.

I feel lonely a lot. I think that’s okay, though it’s hard. I keep wanting to react to it by creating busyness or change, by looking at job listings in California and New York, by committing to a flurry of projects. That’s not healthy, and this week I’ve done what I keep finding myself having to do with every element of this transition: go out alone and sit with it. Breathe into the stretch as it burns in the deep tissue of my soul. Feel not just the edges of the pain, but press into it and find the center.

Right now I’m living with good people who took me in and gave me a room. I saved up–finally got myself a car (despite no credit history!), working on getting an apartment, found a roommate, making plans. Things are coming together, I keep saying.

But even with things coming together, I’m going to be in transition for a while, I think. Filing for divorce in the DC area is really complicated, since there’s not a no-fault option in MD or DC. Being the organized one doesn’t really make my life easier, either. I’m really ready for that to be done and over, but I’m also stuck with the social stigma of “not-yet-legally-divorced” if I want to date casually or meet new people. I’m not quite a social pariah, but it’s uncomfortable.

Trying to keep some things stable, I’ve been gardening a lot. My host family has been so kind to let me use a couple of their garden beds, and I’ve got lettuce, cilantro, carrots, broccoli, peppers, garlic, squash, zucchini, mint, sunflowers, cosmos, poppies, alyssum, and bachelors buttons. I’ve recreated happy memories with these selections, pulling pieces of California, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, and buried them in the ground and watched them sprout, weeded and watered and thinned and harvested. It’s so healing.

I just finished the last day of Sunday school class, which I’ve been teaching weekly since last fall. This too has been a constant and a place where my life-mess doesn’t walk in the door with me. We sit around the table and fill out worksheets and talk about Jesus and the Israelites and the early church and ask questions and decide we don’t know everything, but we like that Jesus loves us.

Friendships have shifted, in all of this, and I’m not sure why (it’s not directly caused by people rejecting me because of the divorce), but it’s tangible and uncomfortable and strange. A lot of it is me changing and others not, and not being sure how to relate, how friendships work for this same-but-different self. I’m more introverted, more emotionally exhausted by social interaction. I like the slower pace of this, but it’s also awkward in general.

Expectations are low. I don’t know what tomorrow’s going to be like, how I’ll deal, what promises will be broken, what to do with trust cast off and thrown back at me, what to do with my constant need to withdraw and protect myself. I haven’t been writing much. I feel like when I do, it will be a long slow process of telling myself my own stories and then reintroducing myself to myself, the new version who embraces her new identity and is moving forward.

I’ve been reading bell hooks a lot, again. All About Love: New Visions has been a lifeline to sanity. Similarly, Runaway Husbands by Vikki Stark (I may do a review of this one here soon). And I’ve been plunging into a lot of novels, novels that don’t have much to do with my world. Escapism isn’t wrong when you don’t have time to rest sometimes, right?

So hi. Maybe I’m back again. And if I’m not back as frequently as before, know that I will be again, after I’ve sat on the floor and breathed into the stretch of this season over and over again until I can tell you how it feels without falling to pieces.

Posts that resonated with me recently:

When Too Many Things Are Happening
How to Weather June

20 thoughts on “Growing Pains

  1. Thank you for writing. No idea how I ended up finding you, but I hear honesty, and I am touched to have read it after my own rough day.

  2. Hännah,

    I can totally relate to what you are going through, even though my circumstances were quite different. What I can say is that I am grateful that my Heavenly Father was extremely patient with me as I went through various stages of sadness, depression, anger, relief, and, eventually, though slowly, contentment. I think the most difficult emotion to work through was “shame.” As a Christian, I found myself shameful that my marriage had failed, as if I was not a good wife, even though it was my husband who stepped away from his faith and his marriage. My best advice would be to take your time to heal. Don’t force yourself to do what others think you should do unless you really feel like God is telling you to do so. Everyone has a piece of advice for the newly divorced, especially well-intentioned Christians, but only you know what you need in order to heal, even when it isn’t always totally clear even to you. As a fellow introvert, I know that I needed a lot of alone time to heal, so don’t deprive yourself of this, but try your best to strike a balance by spending time with good, close friends that make you feel safe with your feelings. I’m glad to hear of your friends who took you in. I had a wonderful couple who was there for me every step of the way; I think God knew I wouldn’t survive without them by my side, but I also had to let go of some friendships that were unhealthy for me, for various reasons. Be patient with yourself and be sure to continue activities, like your gardening, that help you to de-stress.

    Blessings and prayers sent your way,

  3. I have the same tendency to deny and keep quiet and curl in tight until I have something I feel is worth showing. I love your image of the stretch, and your garden sounds like a beautiful place. So proud of you for letting us into a corner of the hard place. Peace and health to you.

  4. I have been reading your book. Although I am not literally a Quivering Daughter I have come from a very dysfunctional and abusive family where addiction was prevalent. The Bible was used as a weapon. I always had a heart for God and loved Jesus from a very young age. God the Father, however, scared the heck out of me. I saw Him as mean, critical, ready to judge and quick to punish. I suffered Spiritual Abuse throughout my life as well. I was a codependent enabler, perfectionist,

  5. (cont) workaholic, ministry leader addict, super hero, people pleasing, unable to say no person. I had what I like to call my “Breakthrough by way of a Meltdown” two and a half years ago. I stepped down from all of my ministry leader positions, left my church (of 10 years – because it was so dysfunctional and therefore unsafe), and began seeing a counselor weekly. I’ve come so far in my recovery – but still have far to go. I cut off 95% of all my relationships bc they were so dysfunctional and abusive. There were times I was so lonely, but like you, I knew it was right and even though it hurt walking through so much pain – it was a part of my healing. God led me to your article When You Haven’t Been Hurt. It was so powerful and full if truth. There was no Balm of Gilead in and if the churches of my past. Instead there was only abuse. I have really struggled with how I feel about church (we have been attending one outside of the area we live in bc I wanted to be invisible and unknown so I could simply receive). I have struggled with wanting to read my Bible or even religious books. I haven’t understood it at all. I knew I still loved God (I call Him, Daddy) and talked with Him all the time but I didn’t feel the closeness I thought I had when I was “doing” instead of being. I read that part in your book that described a very similar situation in your own life. You called it a Spiritual Detox. It exploded within me and gave the the quiet calm assurance that all is well and that I am on the right path and will continue to heal. I just want to say that I don’t know you but I feel a kindred heart in what you share. I pray God helps you through this painful season. Thank you for your willingness to be so open and transparent before others. It helps us to be the same. And that is truly where healing begins. ~ Laurie

    1. Aw, thanks! I’m not sure you’ve got the right person, though. I haven’t published a book yet–what book are you reading? It sounds fascinating.

  6. So sorry to hear about how hard things have been. A little something normal like gardening can do so much more than I would have ever expected. There is something healing about “growing” and tending plants. Wishing you all the best as you process, heal, and write.

  7. Glad you’re back! Gardening is fun too. We’ve definitely had good gardening weather here it the DC metro area.

  8. I too am experience growing pains…In a very similiar phase of change. Thank you for the book suggestions. Just what I need.

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